Okay, so not really. It’s really one of the beginning steps of my students’ character analysis group projects. I call this one “Anatomy of a Character.” In groups of 4-5, students choose a character from one of the stories we’ve read to analyze. Using the guidelines I provide to them, they assign roles and responsibilities. Stupid titles like “Clutter Captain” and “Tech Specialist” serve the not-stupid purpose of making sure that each group member has a specific job. It helps me know who I need to fuss at and why when I notice that some groups are off-task.
First, they spend a couple of days completing their graphic organizers, in which they determine the actions and motives, personality traits, and emotions of their chosen character. They also need to explain what direct and indirect characterization are, find examples of each in the story, and determine whether their character is round or flat and dynamic or static. Each individual is responsible for a different part of the organizer, and collectively they need to review each section and reach consensus on what the best possible answers are. When the members are in agreement, the individuals then take their section of the organizer and develop the information into a well-developed paragraph.
The next phase is creation of the body map. The students use big sheets of bulletin board paper to trace an outline of one of their group members. Using various art supplies, they then create likenesses of their chosen character based on the physical descriptions given in the story. In this phase, the person who is the “Tech Specialist” is in charge of typing the paragraphs they wrote in part one. The paragraphs and labels are printed out and are glued to specific parts of the character on the map.
The kids usually have a good time doing this project. It’s a good warm-up for the next project, which involves blood, guts, and dismemberment.
What was your favorite project from your school days?